If you are thinking about starting a blog you have probably thought through a lot of different factors. The type of blog it is going to be, how often you post, the way you will be promoting it, the design you will use. But there is a very subtle question sometimes those who have chosen to use WordPress don’t know to ask: .com or .org?
This has nothing to do with the domain URL you choose, but rather which version of WordPress you decide to host it on. While they both come from the same company, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different services with very different features. Knowing what you want in the beginning will keep you from having to go back and change things later.
For those who are not tech savvy and so worry about the more complicated functions of running a site, WordPress.com might be the better option. It allows you to create a clean, professional looking site using many free themes, or else paying for more complex and customizable ones. You can entirely custom make your design by unlocking the pro version of the platform.
This costs $79 per year and also includes domain name and mapping, 10 GB space upgrade, custom design, VideoPress and other features. You can also choose to buy separate upgrades, like a domain for $13 per year plus $5 registration, space upgrades by amount, an enterprise version for professional websites for $500 per year and more.
Most people are going to be fine with the free features, minus perhaps the domain registration. They host everything for you, though you can transfer your WordPress.com site to a third party hosting site. Backups are automatic, you don’t have to deal with any coding, and the process of making any changes is very guided.
The downside is that there is no access (even basic) to the PHP coding of your site. Which means you won’t be able to use the thousands of plugins that are compatible with the more advanced .org platform. Though they do have 100 plugins available for .com users, they are not nearly as extensive as what has been released.
Some of the other services you might want can’t be used, either. For example, Google Adsense needs to be added by verifying your site through a code you add to the coding of a page. Though WordPress does have their own paid advertising option you can use, it is usually considered pretty worthless.
If you have a bit more tech know-how, have someone who knows what they are doing willing to build the site for you, or you are willing to learn the ins and outs, WordPress.org is a great option. You host your website yourself using any chosen company. They have recommendations such as Bluehost, but you can choose who you like.
Once you have a host you can download and install the software, which they will lead you through using an online guide. Doing this yourself gives you full PHP access and lets you customize and build things as you see fit. Which includes access to all plugins, both official and unofficial. Many are free, though there are premium plugins you can choose.
WordPress.org itself is free, though you will still need to buy a domain and pay for a host. Most hosting companies will have deals to bring in new customers, such as $3.95 a month if you pay for a term length of 36 months, with increasing amounts the less the term length you select. Expect to pay between $70 and $200 per year for your host. It will depend on the additional purchases you make, and how large your site will be.
Which One Is For Me?
Only you will know which option will work best for your purposes. If you are brand new to blogging and have never designed a site I would suggest starting off with a .com and building your content and readership. Eventually you will see if you want to make the switch to .org, which you can do in full without too much difficulty.
Take some time to think about exactly what you want in a site, and what you need. That should give you a basic idea of which direction is the right one for your blog.
Image Credit: 1, 2, 3.